Rose­mary for re­mem­brance, pan­sies for thoughts

Times Colonist - - Homes - HE­LEN CHESNUT hch­es­nut@bc­su­per­

This week­end is a time of solemn re­mem­ber­ing, and in the realm of rem­i­nis­cence, two plants come to mind: rose­mary and pan­sies. “There’s rose­mary, that’s for re­mem­brance. Pray you, love, re­mem­ber. And there is pan­sies, that’s for thoughts,” says Ophe­lia to her brother Laertes in Ham­let.

In plant lore, smelling or eat­ing rose­mary is said to im­prove the mem­ory. I just like it, and be­cause I use rose­mary so much in cook­ing, I grow an easy-care hedge of the plants in one of the sun­ni­est, hottest parts of the gar­den. The plants bloom over a long pe­riod, at­tract­ing large num­bers of bees.

I love rose­mary’s pun­gent, resinous scent, which brings mem­o­ries of the hot, dry, herb­s­cented Mediter­ranean hills.

Through­out No­vem­ber, I keep springs of rose­mary and a small vase of pan­sies on the win­dowsill above the kitchen sink. In French, pansy is pen­sée. The same word is used for “thought.”

The pan­sies (and vi­o­las, or mini-pan­sies) on the win­dowsill are cut from the bowl-shaped, el­e­vated planters on the pa­tio, in full view from the fam­ily room. They bloom there dur­ing the fall, dur­ing mild win­ter weather, and fully in spring. I know of very few plant­ings that give such a long, care-free bloom time for such lit­tle ef­fort.

Re­mem­ber­ing fam­ily. A late Oc­to­ber email from Betty Sher­wood is full of fam­ily re­mem­brance. “Thank you for the re­marks about bougainvil­lea in a re­cent col­umn. I was glad to know that it flow­ers on new growth. My plant has his­tory.

“On July 25, 1970, my mother rooted a bougainvil­lea cut­ting. Af­ter she died in 1972, my fa­ther looked af­ter it and when he died, my cousin nur­tured the plant un­til I took over its care. Now, 48 years from the plant’s be­gin­ning, it con­tin­ues to do very well. I put it out­doors in the sum­mer. Now it is back in my bed­room. I prune it back when­ever it gets leggy, to make it eas­ier to move.

“The plant is more than beau­ti­ful. It feels like a gift from Mum.”

A grave mat­ter. In line with the solemn na­ture of this week­end is an email form Dale, who wishes to share a de­ci­sion he has made, one he feels may ap­peal to gar­den­ers: “My choice, when I die, is to have a green burial. I ask that my body be buried in a sim­ple bag.”

This makes good sense for gar­den­ers like me. I’ve been avidly com­post­ing for most of my life. Here’s a way to carry on com­post­ing into the be­yond.

The “green” burial con­cept sounds new, but dur­ing a brief teenage so­journ in a Trap­pis­tine monastery in New Brunswick, I re­mem­ber nuns who died be­ing sim­ply wrapped in their cloaks for burial.

Two green burial sites ex­ist on Van­cou­ver Is­land, at Royal Oak Burial Park and Yates Memo­rial Ser­vices in Parksville.

Dale al­ready has a “small Garry oak vol­un­teer” for his burial site, but the tree may have to be placed else­where. Trees gen­er­ally grow around the out­side of a green burial “park” or “gar­den” space, where small na­tive plants such as ferns or wild­flow­ers can be planted over burial sites once they have set­tled.

The is­sue, as Dale sug­gests, is one that “other gar­den­ers might find they’d like to con­sider.” Timely tips: • Send for a few seed cat­a­logues to fuel win­ter dreams of a splen­did gar­den in 2019. Ask avid gar­den­ing friends and neigh­bours for rec­om­men­da­tions on their favourites. Ask ven­dors at farm­ers’ mar­kets about seed sources. • Make a rough sketch of this year’s veg­etable gar­den. Then make a fresh one for pen­cilling in the sites of next year’s plant­ings. Make sure to change the lo­ca­tion from year to year of each ma­jor type, such as roots, cab­bage fam­ily and toma­toes.

Gar­den events

Penin­sula meet­ing. The Penin­sula Gar­den Club will meet on Mon­day, Nov. 12, at 7 p.m. in the Mary Win­spear Cen­tre in Sid­ney. The evening will fea­ture the club’s AGM as well as Paul de Gre­eff, a reg­is­tered land­scape ar­chi­tect, pre­sent­ing “Dig­ging into Rain Gar­dens.” His talk will cover the pur­pose, de­sign and in­stal­la­tion of a wa­ter gar­den. There will be a par­lour show, plant stall and li­brary ac­cess. Non-mem­ber drop-in fee $5.

Qualicum meet­ing. The Qualicum Beach Gar­den Club will meet on Tues­day, Nov. 13, at 7:30 p.m. in the Q.B. Civic Cen­tre on Jones Street. The meet­ing will fea­ture a se­ries of win­ter and Christ­mas projects for gar­den­ers, in­clud­ing cre­at­ing wreaths, planters and more. Drop-in fee $3.

This cut­ting-grown bougainvil­lea has been nur­tured in a fam­ily for 48 years.

Blue Frost pansy in the Ma­trix se­ries.

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